Saving the Titanic...

In the midst of a busy Holy Week Sally and I were due to go to a film premier in the Thompson Dry-Dock, or Titanic Dock to give it it's popular title in this season of all things Titanic, to see the premiere of a film about the aforesaid big boat...
Now given that 
a) I'm just about sick to the back teeth with the Titanic, 
b) Holy Week is clerical chaos, 
c) My leg was hurting (Awww!) and 
d) the weather had changed from being summer-like the previous week when we were invited, back to mid-winter by the Tuesday we were due to go...
I was seriously thinking about crying off... But a friend we haven't seen for ages, who was acting in it, had kindly offered us the tickets, so I felt bad about even contemplating this...
Then they moved the venue from the open-air to the Great Hall in Belfast City Hall, removing one of my gripes, and we made our way there in good time...
And I was glad we had made the effort...
The event, unusually, began with the audience standing for a minute's silence in memory of those who died on the Titanic, and building her...
Then the film began: "Saving the Titanic", a drama-documentary directed by Maurice Sweeney. It's a relatively low budget co production between RTE and a German company, which clearly couldn't stretch to any long lingering looks at the ship in all its glory, but that didn't matter because it was a "below stairs" look at the whole disaster, focussing on the firemen, engineers and electricians who worked tirelessly, first to save the Titanic, and then, when it quickly became clear that it would sink, to keep it afloat for as long as possible to enable more people to be saved...
It is certainly a very different film from James Cameron's mega-movie, with or without 3D... and was certainly superior to the recent "Drownton Abbey/Upstairs Drownstairs" travesty on ITV. It is supposed to be shown on RTE tonight and Channel 4 tomorrow and is well worth a watch. I think you will find it moving without being emotionally manipulative... informative without being didactic... 
But there was a certain appropriateness watching it from the environs of Belfast City Hall, not just because Belfast's Titanic Memorial was just outside the window, but also because it, like the Titanic was a product of the go-ahead capitalism and entrepreneurship of Ulster in the late 19th century... And whilst the public facade of the City Hall is glorious, it was built on a system which left many of its citizens in extreme poverty... in much the same way that the 1st class section of the Titanic was the epitome of luxury, while down below the firemen and others worked in dreadful conditions to keep the Titanic going... and in the end it was those who worked in the bowels of the ship who disproportionately gave their lives for those above decks. 
It didn't cover up the sectarianism that pervaded, not only the building of the ship, but its operation... but, without spoiling it for you, it is interesting what is seen as important when disaster strikes...
Hats off to the cast and production team, including our friend Steve who does a perfectly acceptable Norn Irish accent as Thomas Andrews, in a good portrayal of the designer of doomed liner. Indeed all the performances more than passed muster, although Ciaran McMenamin's "big scene" sat slightly at odds with the rest of the film... I'm not sure that was a function of the acting, writing or direction... but it doesn't detract much from the movie.
But hats off, again, to all those who died, in the building and sinking of the ship, particularly, and appropriately in this Easter season, those who gave their lives that others might live...

Shalom



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